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Sker House || The Maids of Sker - Elizabeth Williams (d.1776)
Elizabeth Williams (d.1776)
Her story was popularised by Thomas Morgan, better known by his bardic name of Llyfnwy, in his book 'The Cupid' first published in 1869.
Elizabeth, so the story runs, was an attractive young lady who was very fond of dancing and never missed the opportunity offered by the local mabsant revels - these were held at the old town hall above The Prince of Wales Inn at Kenfig.
These revels were an annual event with origins in the medieval period and were held to celebrate the 'day' of the local saint to whom the local church was dedicated.
An account of a later celebration describes how music was provided by a harpist sitting on the large table at one end of the hall whilst the dancers occupied the floor, and the older folk sat about the walls enjoying the music and reflecting on the days when they too had been young enough to participate.
At one of these revels attended by young Elizabeth Willaims the harpist was Thomas Evans of Newton Nottage. Sometime during the evening their eyes met and both were smitten.
For a time he courted her, but his suite was frowned upon by her friends and particulary her father. She was the daughter of a well-to-do farmer whilst he, for all the musical prowess he may have possessed, was but a poor carpenter.
Out of his attempts to woo Elizabeth came the folk song "Y Ferch o'r Sker". Thomas was no composer, far less a poet, so he pevailed upon a local bard, David Llewellyn of Nottage, to write the words, which were set to the hymn tune called 'Diniweidrwydd'. The song actually makes little reference to Sker other than one verse (given here its translation) what appears to be an insertion:
Alas, their affair was not to be. Isaac imprisioned his daughter in the house until she at last consented to marry the man of his choice - Thomas Kirkhouse of Neath.
The couple were duly married at Llangyfelach church, Morriston on 9th September 1766, only a few months before Isaac's death. After the marriage they settled in the Briton Ferry area and the parish registers indicate that they had at least four children of whom one died in infancy.
According to the ledgend the marriage was never a happy one. Whenever Thomas Evans happened to be playing in the district Elizabeth would slip away to hear him, and beg him to play "her song". The marriage was in fact of short duration, for the registers of the church at Llansamlet indicate that she was buried there on 6th January, 1776.
The Folk Song - Y Ferch o'r Sker
Elizabeth Williams (d.1776)
Out of his attempts to woo Elizabeth Williams came the folk song "Y Ferch o'r Sker".
The harpist, Thomas Evans of Newton Nottage was no composer, far less a poet, so he pevailed upon a local bard, David Llewellyn of Nottage, to write the words, which were set to the hymn tune called 'Diniweidrwydd'.
Translation (Welsh to English)|| Diniweidrwydd
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